Paul vs Job Part 4: Difference between long and short trials

At this point, I feel I need to share a bit from my experience about the differences between struggles that are relatively short-lived and trials that go on for quite some time.  This is one of the biggest reasons why those of us who struggle with long term issues, have a hard time hearing from well-meaning friends how, “this too shall pass.”   I wrote about this a while back and it bears repeating so I interrupt this series this week to bring you this very important article: Six Reasons Why Chronic Issues are So Different.

When I was about to have my first child, I went to a birthing class for The Bradley Method (different philosophy, but similar idea to La Maz).  The teacher said something I will always remember because it fits as a motto for so many things in life.  She said, “You can stand just about anything for a short time.”  She explained that when you couldn’t stand the pain a moment longer, that’s usually when the baby is born.  I found that to be true.

I remember thinking, about that quote as I lay in the hospital bed in agony dilated to 7.  The nurse said it would be HOURS yet.  I was only in labor for about nine hours at that point.  Most women are in labor far longer so that is what hospitals are used to.  Well, they never met Speedy Tabares!  So she walked out of the room saying to call her back when I felt the need to push.  Well, the minute she walked out, I felt I needed to push.  My husband went to go tell her and she sent him back in assuring me it would be HOURS yet and to tell me no, she’d be back in later on.  I was in so much pain, I remember thinking, I could possibly take another few minutes of this, a few hours?  NO!  So I told him to go back to her and tell her YES!  She came back in and sure enough, I was at 10.  My daughter was born just a few minutes later.

You can stand just about anything for a short time, but the longer it goes on, the more the stress of it zaps your energy, your hope, your strength, your courage, your resolve, and shakes your faith.

There was a psychologist I read about who was teaching a class on stress management. She asked her class to imagine holding up a glass of water.  Most of the students thought she was going to talk about the glass being half full or empty to illustrate optimism vs pessimism.  However, she asked them how much they thought the glass would weigh.  Many of the students gave answers, but she told them it didn’t matter.  It wasn’t how much the glass weighed that was at issue; it was how long one must stand there with their arm outstretched holding it up.  You see, you can stand there with your arm up holding nothing at all and, over time, your arm will grow tired.  Holding it up for a minute is no big deal.  While, holding it up for an hour would cause your arm to go numb and feel paralyzed.  She explained that it’s the same with stress.  While it may not kill you, it can destroy your quality of life.

Most chronic conditions will not kill you, but they can destroy your quality of life as the person you were is stretched and changed and limited beyond what you were and had ever envisioned for your life.

If you’re ever seen the movie Facing the Giants, you’ll remember that scene where the coach has the football player close his eyes and he coaches him a few inches at a time to eventually get him across the entire field with another man on his back.  When he opens his eyes, he is amazed at how far he had come because he was certain he couldn’t make it all the way before he started.  Life is like that.  We can stand just about anything for a short time and then we need encouragement and inspiration one step at a time to make it to the end…or just keep making it each day as some struggles don’t have an ending this side of heaven.  It’s how the old saying goes about how ones eats an elephant…one bite at a time.

There are actually six reasons why chronic issues are so different, devastating, and destructive.

1. What doesn’t kill you may, indeed, destroy your quality of life.

…and very few who have not experienced a chronic issue will truly understand this.

  • Over time these experiences will change who you are.  Not necessarily for the worse, but it may seem that way at first as you no longer will be able to do the things you once could.  If it’s financial, you will no longer be able to afford things like luxuries (or in extreme cases even basic necessities) that you once could. If it’s health related, you will no longer be able to afford the energy to do the things you once could or loved or desire.
  • Chronic issues force you to think ahead much more than you used to, to plan things ahead of time.  In the case of financial matters, you will be forced to not go to dinner all month in order to be able to afford to go to a birthday dinner with friends next month.  In health issues, you may need to plan to take it easy this week in order to have the energy to go out to lunch with friends next week.
  • It can be increasingly frustrating not to know when, or even IF, your current crisis will end.

2. Most people will not understand. 

  • They’ll make comments like, “You don’t look sick.”  or “I’m broke too, but I’m going to buy a nice gift for Mom. Why can’t you?”  They don’t understand…”chronic illness can’t be all that bad if you look ok on the outside.”  Their idea of broke may be different from yours if you can’t pay rent this month.
  • Friends and family will use the words tired and exhausted interchangeably to mean they stayed up a bit too late last night and think that’s how you feel when you share why you can’t make the trip to Vegas this year.  After all, they’re tired too.

I remember a time when we were so broke, we drove an hour to a grocery store because it was the only one in the area who took credit cards at the time and we had no money for milk and bread.  We mentioned our financial struggles to a friend of ours who said they understood how we felt as they were down to their “last $10,000 in their bank account.”  True story and, yes, they really thought they knew how we felt.

3. Feeling guilty for all the things you can’t do for others. 

  • For all the gifts you can’t afford to buy for your nieces and nephews…or maybe your own children
  • For not being able to spend time with others who are hurting because you just can’t physically make it out to see them.
  • For not being able to give money to deserving friends or family when they are in need.
  • For not taking your kids out to a movie or signing them up for an extra curricular event because you don’t have the money or the energy to get them there.
  • For not volunteering at church.
  • For not offering to make dinner for a friend in need because you can hardly sum up the money or energy to make your own.

4. You will feel the need to push yourself beyond what you can comfortably give to others. 

  • and this will cause you to over extend your energy levels or financial situation beyond what it can hold.
  • and this will cause you to have consequences like having to give up working the next few days to recover or give up some repair because you ran out of money before you ran out of month.

5. Getting angry or defensive when challenged.

  • and you will be challenged.  You may find yourself having to explain to the very same relative why you can’t come to the big shindig next year in Tahiti even though they were able to save up for it this year.
  • Explaining for the 20th time how you may have to cancel lunch for the third time because you just don’t feel up to it today even though you did feel up to cleaning the house yesterday.

6. You may find your faith eroding as you wonder why God hasn’t healed you. 

  • because He did heal So and So
  • You’ll wonder if God really cares for you if He is willing to leave you in this trial all this time.
  • You may wonder why me? What did I do to deserve this?
  • You may wonder if God is really there at all.

Proverbs 17:22 says, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.”  It’s so important in our struggles that I put it up on the top of this blog.  You see, we can get down in the valley after a while such that we have a hard time pulling ourselves out.  That’s when we need others to help us up.

John 14:18 says, “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.” Just knowing that someone understands what you’re going through and justifies your feelings about what you are dealing with can help pull you out of the valley.  And that’s why I’m here.

I am not a doctor or a financial wiz kid. God may not choose to heal you or put an end to your financial struggles, but I can help you pull yourself out of the valley so you can begin to see the joy and live a life beyond surviving!

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Paul vs Job Part 3: Lessons From Paul

So last week we looked at the lessons we can learn from Job about being in trial. This week, I’m sharing the lessons I feel we can learn from Paul.

1.  Bad things happen even when you’re doing God’s will:
I heard some say that bad things happen to those who are doing evil, but this is a fallen world, so bad things can happen to anyone.  The Bible talks about how the you can be persecuted for your faith.  Paul was one who was.  He was put in jail at least twice.  But Paul also talked of having some kind of medical problem he called a thorn in his side that he prayed would be removed.  God didn’t heal Paul, but instead said, “My grace is sufficient for you.”   Bad things happen even when we are doing God’s will for our lives.  Bad things also happen in the secular world even when we follow the rules.  Once my dh was fired even though he was doing a fabulous job for the owner of the company.  The owner just didn’t like that my dh was Mexican.  It caused our family severe financial hardship for a few years and we are not totally out of the woods yet, though God has always made a way for us and things are looking up financially.

2. There is always purpose to your life:
Paul had a purpose to (a calling on) his life that kept him busy even though he struggled with various trials.  I believe each one of us also has a purpose to or a calling on our lives.  And that purpose can get us through the struggles if our focus is on that purpose more than it is on our struggles.   Hard to do at times, but well worth it.

3. God sets NO limits on some of our trials:
Job’s trails were allowed to continue for a limited time.  Some of our trials may be more like Paul’s that last until the Lord calls us home.  I’ve had some of my chronic illnesses since I was a teen.  Others have been added unto me in my 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s and I don’t expect they will leave me this side of heaven.  Like Paul, I’ve had to deal with them for decades.  You may have had to deal with your trial(s) for a lifetime.  God does’t promise He will always heal, but He does promise to be there with us to see us through.

4. Paul shows us three qualities that are good to develop in life:
Paul was patient, persistent,  and courageous.  Those are three things that we would do well to develop because they are the three qualities I have found that help you get through a trial.  Struggles are so much more difficult when we are not patient to wait on the Lord’s timing.

We can often feel as if we should be healed or this crisis should have been over sooner, but the Lord may want to use the struggle we are in for a greater good.  If we are patient, we don’t fight against what is happening, but rather go with the flow and thus have less inner struggle to deal with while in trial.

Trials can often overwhelm us to the point where want to give up, but Paul shows us that persistence pays off in the end. We can do so much more if we keep going, keep doing what we can and know to be right.  Not that we won’t have thoughts of giving up, but that they will be momentary and allow us to keep moving forward.

Courage is what it takes to get through trials and struggles and Paul is a great example for us to follow-especially if those trials are long lived.

5. Paul was focused on God’s calling in his life.
Paul spent most of his time and energy on his calling.  He was laser focused on evangelism and ministry.  I believe this is THE most important thing we can learn from Paul about trials.  The more you struggle, the easier it is to be distracted from our purpose or calling.  That’s how Satan works.  He distracts us from doing God’s will by throwing a monkey wrench into our plans. One of those wrenches might have chronic illness on it and another might have financial troubles or neighbor problems…  The more laser focused we can be on our mission, the less focused we are on our problems and the smaller they will seem.

6. How to be content in any situation
In Philippians 4:11-13, Paul writes, “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in an and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all things through him who gives me strength.

Paul’s contentment seems to come from strength he found in God. His patience, persistence, and courage came from having faith and relying on the Lord for everything.  He had faith that God knew what was best and that His timing was perfect.  That acceptance, I believe, allowed Paul not to fight against his circumstances and just plow through the tasks he was charged with.

7. Paul was eternity focused  not self focused
Finally, I believe that Paul’s contentment and joy in the Lord despite trials was easier because he was focused on the bigger picture.  If you’ve ever had a baby, especially without benefit of pain meds, you know that probably the only reason you were able to get through that as well as you did was because you were focused on the precious child you were about to be blessed with.  Pain of that caliber is too great to endure without meds without some goal in mind.

Paul was focused on eternity with Jesus much more than on the issues he faced day to day.  In my own experience, I find that I can get through the irritating, frustrating, painful, and tiring overwhelm much better if I keep my eye on the prize: the mission He gave me, eternity in heaven.

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Paul vs Job Part 2: Lessons of Job

You might be asking yourself why I’m starting with Job when the title says Paul vs Job.  The answer is simple.  Much more is written about Job and suffering than is written about Paul so it’s going to take me more time to gain a bit of insight into the lessons Paul has for those who struggle and, since it’s my blog…[sticks tongue out]

So, Job…

There are many lessons we can discern from the book of Job. I think there are several that relate to trials.

1.  Bad things happen to good people:
Though many well-meaning Christians will tell you that your trial and all struggles are due to unrepentant sin, this is simply not biblical.  Job is a prime example of that.  He was a man after God’s own heart whom God allowed to be tested.  Like Job, many of us haven’t done anything that deserves a lifetime of health issues.  Some of us were born with them. Would you say that an unborn baby sinned in the womb?  Probably not.  Sometimes bad things just happen to good people. After all, it’s a fallen world.  Bad things can happen because there is disease in a fallen world or because people who choose to do evil have the freedom to act on it: a drunk driver hits a child causing life-long disabilities. As they say, Stuff Happens.

2. God is always with us:
When in trial, especially when that trial lingers on and becomes chronic, we can feel so very alone.  However, just because we struggle doesn’t meant God has abandoned us.  He is always there to hear our prayers and support us even if our well-meaning, Christian friends can’t.  When a friend tells us we are in pain because we sinned, God tells us we are His child.

3. There is always hope:
Job teaches us that there is always hope.  God may do a miracle in your life and turn around even a long-lived struggle.  After many years of financial struggle, you may start a business that supports your family quite well! In fact, hope may come in the form of making you better off than you were before the trial!  Job was given much more than he was aloud to lose.  I know from personal experience that God has always put my family in a better situation than the one we found ourselves in prior to a financial struggle.  We aren’t millionaires by any stretch of the imagination, but we are in a better financial position than we were a few years ago when my husband was working at the church for minimum wage.  We now have an opportunity to build our business to a point where it supports our family even if he never finds another employer.

4. God Limits Some of Our Trials:
Job’s trails were alowed to continue for a limited time.  Some of our trials, though they may be several months or even several years, may have an expiration date as was the case with Job.

5. We are to be humble:
Job was willing to accept the trials even though he didn’t understand why God had allowed them into his life.  In being humbled enough to accept trials, I think that made God happy.  When one of our children isn’t allowed to do something they want to do, we are blessed when they simply accept that it is ultimately for their own good somehow–even when they can’t see why.

6. God understands when we sin in the midst of struggles:
Job got frustrated with his trials and his friends gave him poor support and advice that wasn’t biblical.  Whether we are in the trial or are trying to help someone in trial, we can sin.  God understands this and is willing to forgive us when we ask for forgiveness because we are sinners.  God knows this and is a kind and understanding Father as we would be with our children if they did wrong and came to us asking forgiveness.

7. We may never know why:
Job never understood why God allowed all the struggles in his life.  Sometimes we may have a glimpse into why He allows us to go through trials, but other times we may never know.  I think I know why God allowed me to go through a few of the health issues I had to endure.

Because of a series of health issues, procedures were done and surgeries were necessary. After one surgery, they found a very aggressive and rare cancer in its infancy.  I wouldn’t be alive today if I hadn’t undergone all of that.  I also wouldn’t have an amazing testimony that may reach others.

However, I’ve gone through many other struggles for which I have no reasons.  I just need to trust that God is working all for my good because that’s who He is.

8. Acceptance leads to trust and faith:
Job accepted what God had allowed in his life.  He trusted God to do what He wanted in his life, and he had a faith in the Lord.  I’m not sure how Job came to this faith, but I know how I did.  It’s not easy to accept a trial, especially when it has gone on for what seems like forever. However, once you get to the point where you can accept, you will find it much easier to trust that God is with you.  This leads to a stronger faith, I find, in future trials.

Can you think of any other lessons from Job that help us in trials? Please comment.

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Paul vs Job Series Part 1: Differences

I’ve always been frustrated by well-meaning Christians who quote Job when someone is struggling in trial.  It frustrates me mostly because I remember being deep in trial, overwhelmed, and frustrated at something that had been going on for years and would continue for the foreseeable future. My chronic health issues are incurable.  They can be managed (and at present they are managed fairly well), but they are not something I expect will go away.  In fact, the older I get, the more difficult they become.

So, when someone quoted Job to me, I felt even more frustrated because my struggles weren’t comparable to Job’s because God restored Job.  It doesn’t appear He will restore me.  Job’s struggles had an expiration date.  Mine don’t.  Most of you reading this will relate to that.  There is a difference between going through a trial (or even many trials) for a short time and ones that last so long you’re only relief is the other side of heaven.

In thinking about the differences between temporary trails and permanent ones, I began to realize that there is a huge difference between Paul and Job.  That prompted me to look deeper and what I found is that there are different comforts and lessons in each.  I’ll be sharing about that in later weeks, but for now, I’d like to share the stark contrast between Paul and Job.

Job: Old Testiment                                                   Paul: New Testiment

Job: Didn’t really know God                                 Paul: Knew God and Jesus well

Job: Before the Trial: Righteous                        Paul: Persecuted/Self-Righteous

Job: Questioned God and Complained         Paul: Never complained

Job: Got all back and more                                  Paul: Never healed

Job: Honored by others                                        Paul: Mistreated/Jailed

Job: Family oriented                                               Paul: Ministry oriented

Job: Blamed God for his troubles                   Paul: Praised God for trials

Job: Example of Trusting God                          Paul: Example of a Leader

Job: Man after God’s own heart                      Paul: My Grace is Sufficient for you

Job: Friend’s mocked him                                  Paul: Friends comforted him

Job: Lost children, wife mocked him            Paul: We don’t know

Job: Had lots of issues but short lived         Paul: Fewer issues, but long lived

Job: After had honor and wealth                   Paul: Poor/Jailed

Job: Surrounded by “friends”                         Paul: Alone, but supportive letters

I had never considered this idea before, but found it fascinating how drastically different these two men were. It’s interesting how different their lives were and how different their faith was.  What other differences can you find between the two men?

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Paul vs Job Series Begins

Introduction: Paul vs Job

You’ve probably had someone reply to your plea for support with a platitude or a quote from Job that went something like, “This too shall pass.”  When you’re trial has lasted over seven years or you’ve been living with an incurable illness for over 30 or 40 years, it doesn’t help to hear that Job was blessed with even more than he had before Satan was allowed to take his wealth, health, and loved ones away.  How long was Job’s suffering?  It wasn’t a lifetime, but yours might be.  I know mine has been.

It never gave me peace to hear about how Job’s health and wealth and family were restored to him.  I mean, I was happy for him. I’m happy for all who have suffered and been blessed, but it never helped me to know that OTHERS’ trials had ended or that they were short-lived. Just like it never satisfied me financially to know that someone else had built a million dollar business while I was struggling to pay rent or find quarters in the First National Couch with which to go food shopping.  I was happy for them, but it didn’t help me.

Then one day I realized that it was because I wasn’t a Job. I was a Paul.  Many of us are Pauls.  Many of us struggle with things for a lifetime or at least a long time.  Some of us had learned to find joy despite the trials, but others hadn’t.  I wondered what it was about Paul that allowed him to find joy in the words, “My grace is sufficient for you.”

I decided to look for a study of just how Paul found the joy he spoke of in the midst of so much turmoil.  I searched for a devotional about the difference between Job’s trials and Paul’s.  I couldn’t find one.  Several of my friends suggested that I write one.  Well, I didn’t feel qualified to do such a thing.  So for years I just kept looking.

Then one day, two church friends found me at a book sale looking for just such a book.  When I explained what I was looking for, they both suggested that I write one.  Again, I told them I didn’t feel qualified to undertake such a task, but they both replied that many people didn’t feel qualified and that God qualifies those whom he calls.   Well, I still don’t feel I have enough biblical knowledge to undertake such a monumental assignment, but I do feel God calling me to write about it.

So I will be writing a blog article series on the differences between Paul and Job. I will be sharing my research, my findings, and my own experiences finding joy in the dark places.  I really have no idea where this is going, but I do feel the Lord leading me to follow this path to wherever it takes me.

I invite you to share your comments and experiences along the way and I hope it blesses each of my readers.

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Two Things We All Need When in Struggle

There are two very important things we all need when we are in crisis.  They are vital, but they are not at all common.  These two things are needed even more so when in trial and God says no. Those two things are prayer and practical advice.

When we struggle, when we are in trial, when life seems bleak and we are not sure how we are going to handle something that has been dropped in our lap or slapped across our face (as it sometimes feels), the first thing we need is prayer.  We need to petition the Father for comfort, for strength, and for help.  That prayer usually comes from us…the person(s) in need of the help.  But when that prayer comes from a friend or group of friends, it means so much more.

Prayer is a powerful thing. And corporate prayer is even more powerful. It’s what helped me give birth to my son through a series of miracles that ended with an incredibly healthy kid who rarely gets a cold.  It’s what helped my doctors find pre cancer cells they never would have found until it was too late as most women with Fallopian tube cancer have experienced before their untimely death. It’s what delivered my daughter from heart issues to be healed inside of a month where the doctors expected either a death sentence (if she were born with it) or years of recuperation at best if it were the result of a virus…NOT ONE MONTH!

Praying for someone is amazing, but praying WITH someone can lift someone’s spirits and ease their burden so much in that few minutes it takes to come together in prayer.  Just knowing someone is willing not only to say they’ll pray, and pray in private, but to pray in their presence is an amazing boost to a weary soul.

Prayer is amazing, but often God uses prayers to bring about the practical things that are needed for His struggling children THROUGH the actions of others.  If someone is in need of $100 to be able to meet his rent and someone offers him that $100 as a gift or even as a  loan, that is an answered prayer.  If you can be the answer to prayer for someone, that is truly an amazing feeling.  And it doesn’t always take money.  Sometimes it can take the form of a meal, a shoulder to cry on, a phone call to a friend who may have a job opening, a gift of time or service, or a discount on a product or service desperately needed.

James 2:15-16 says, “Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?” 

Who can you pray for today? Who can you pray WITH today?  How can you be an answered prayer for someone you know who is hurting today?

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Step Eighteen: Getting Out of Survival Mode

It’s been a long series, but I hope it’s helped you deal with Survival Mode a bit better.  My last tip for Getting Out of Survival Mode is to make the invitation.  Often it’s easier for others to come to us than it is for us to get out to go somewhere.  It’s not always the case because then you’ll probably need to host, but it can be very beneficial for a few different reasons.  First, let me share what I originally wrote about this:

18. Invite others over so  you don’t have to go anywhere if that is easier for you. It is for me.

I invite people to come over to my house to visit as often as I can instead of having to drive out to them. It’s more taxing for me to have to plan and execute a car trip out than it is to have someone over for lunch.  You may find it different for you, but this works for me.

There really are several parts to this.  Making the invitation, instead of trying to get out, helps those in trial for several reasons:

  1. It allows you to keep control over your life a wee bit when so many things seem out of your control.
  2. It allows you to be in a more comfortable environment rather than having to do without the comforts of your home you’ve built into your health condition. It’s like home court advantage. LOL
  3. It keeps you from having to drive out and back.
  4. It helps keep down the expenses because there is less gas or wear and tear on your car
  5. It keeps you in contact with friends and family as some may stop inviting you because you’ve cancelled before or said you couldn’t come.
  6. It can help you feel connected to the world, especially if you are a home body.
  7. It can be a great help to you to keep your spirits up and keep you closer to sanity to ask a trusted friend rather than make it just a gathering of friends.  

If you find yourself in trail, take a look back at this series (scroll back to the first in the series) and read them over and over as you need them.  Joy is around the corner, even if your trial isn’t over.  You just need to make some changes, surround yourself with those who understand (check out LifeBeondSurviving.com ), and take some time to look for the joy hidden inside the trials each day.  

I hope you found some of what you seek inside these articles.  Stay with me for more on how to find the joy and get through life’s trials.  😀 

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Step Seventeen: Getting Out of Survival Mode

This series is quickly coming to a close.  This week’s step is all about listening to your body. If your issues are health related (or even if they aren’t), trials can bring with them overwhelm and that means getting fatigued.  It’s important to keep your energy up when you’re in trial so you can better handle what life likes to throw at you.  Here’s what I wrote initially:

17. Schedule naps or take them when you need them

Sounds like a no brainer, but chronic illness usually means we get sleepy or tired–especially at about 3pm.  I used to schedule a nap around that time because I knew I would be good for nothing unless I did.  Sometimes I have to be flexible and nap at 9am if I wasn’t able to sleep much the night before. Now this works out great if you don’t work or work from home.  Those of you who work outside the home, will not find this helpful unless your boss is okay with your head down on your desk at 3pm every day.

It’s not just naps, but finding ways to keep your energy up during trials that can be very tricky so here’s some things to watch out for that can cause more fatigue:

  1. Skipping meals
  2. Not eating healthy meals
  3. Eating on the go
  4. Poor snacking between meals (choosing the chocolate donut instead of something that will nourish your body)
  5. No snacking between meals (it’s more healthful to eat every three hours to keep nourished and it actually helps you maintain your weight)
  6. Not eating big meals (Big meals can make you sleepy, especially if you have a lot of turkey or something with triptofan in it)
  7. Not getting enough sleep at night whether insomnia or not scheduling yourself enough down time.
  8. Not taking time to de-stress which can cause an energy crash before too long and usually at a most inopportune time.
  9. Not taking care of an underlying health issue. (See an internist or specialist if you have insomnia, thyroid issues, adrenal issues, etc. I finally got my insomnia mostly handled with a prescription and now my health issues are mostly controlled and I have more energy)

What things ZAP your energy?  What steps can you take to minimize or overcome them? 

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Step Sixteen: Getting Out of Survival Mode

Just three more steps to talk about in my series called 18 Steps to Getting Out of Survival Mode and this week’s is reminders.  Here’s what I wrote in my original article:

16. Reminders on computer or iphone

I used to use paper lists, but brain fogged minds often lose the list.  So I began using my Outlook Calendar.  When my computer was zapped by lightning, I transitioned to my phone, which was better for me because it has a loud tone that was near me when it went off.  I can’t tell you how many times I came upstairs at 4pm to find my computer had reminded me to eat lunch.

Technology’s a wonderful thing!  There are more ways to remind yourself to do things than there are people in the world.  Find one that works for you.  Find several if that’s what it takes. If technology’s not your thing and you love notebooks, use them.  Whatever works for you.

I can’t tell you how much pressure it takes off of my already fried brain to know I don’t need to keep certain things in my head for very long…not that I have as much control over that as the years roll on!  Whether your brain is overloaded due to age or trails, this is the one thing that will help you keep on track and not have to experience that old familiar heart wrenching, “OH SNAP!” moment when it’s too late to do something that went critical four days ago!

What kinds of things should you leave to a reminder and what things should you trust yourself with?  Well, that all depends upon you.  Take inventory of the things you tend to forget.  There was a time I couldn’t even remember to eat lunch so that got added to my reminders.  Here’s a list of things to get you started, but lest you think they are too simple to bother with, let me remind you that reminders have saved this old gal MUCH and that’s why these things are on the list of things to put on a list.

  1. Birthdays (with a reminder a few days ahead that allows you to buy a gift or schedule a call)
  2. Anniversaries (YES YOUR OWN!)
  3. Doctor and other Appointments
  4. Deadlines (anything from work related to ordering gifts for relatives and even the last day to call and cancel that trial software program you purchased six months ago)
  5. Household chores
  6. To update your food shopping list
  7. To make a recurring weekly part of a meal. (We like to have beans with our weekend family breakfasts so I like to schedule Friday afternoon to make sure I have enough for the weekend)
  8. Family visits (whether they are coming to you or you to them)
  9. Regular events (make sure to block out times when you’re usually busy with recurring events like church so you don’t inadvertently schedule something over it without thinking…so you don’t need to think too hard.)
  10. Subscriptions. (I always put a reminder in my schedule for a make up subscription I have. I love the makeup but I don’t wear it much so I have enough to last me ten years after my death! But they won’t warranty my applicator if I don’t have the subscription set up. So I remind myself to call in every three months to postpone it.)

What could you schedule in to remind yourself of that would ease your already burdened mind?  Put it in!

 

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Step Fifteen: Getting Out of Survival Mode

Step 15 in Getting Out of Survival Mode is to take notes and organize yourself.  That meant making lists. Here’s what I wrote originally:

“15. Make lists so you don’t forget

Part of chronic illness for so many is brain fog.  I can’t tell you how many times I forgot to take my meds, eat lunch, do laundry… I make a list each day of what needs to be done and include things some might think to be ridiculous like taking my vitamins, eating lunch or taking a shower. “

However, getting organized can mean so much more than just making lists and I’ve talked about a few of these in my earlier steps as they related to them.  Making lists and getting organized does several things:

  1. It takes the pressure off your brain fogged mind.  When overwhelmed either with disease or the chaos of other trials, you need to keep yourself organized or you’ll be expending too much energy just trying to remember everything you need to do.
  2. It lowers anxiety.  It can be stressful trying to remember all the things you need to do…in time to do them…ON TIME!  It’s so much less stressful to have them all written down, reminders in place so you can deal with all the other stuff you need to deal with…and I know there is plenty left!
  3. It lowers the chances of increasing the chaos and trials.  You and I both know that trials come in sizes.  Super size trials are the ones that overwhelmed you so much that you couldn’t remember to handle the things you could handle while you could still do so.  Keeping track of all you need to do helps you get them done on time to avoid penalties or making your trial worse.

With that in mind, here are other ways you can organize yourself:

  1. Lists can be on paper, on your calendar, on a phone calendar.  Whatever works for you.
  2. I recently found an app that makes my list making even easier.  It’s called Listaway.  It allows me to make several lists and then stick the tasks to be done (with deadlines) so that all my lists are in one place. In fact, I have Listaway on my iPad too so it’s coordinated no matter what device I’m holding. Also it means I can be on a phone call and easily see my lists and calendar which is also sincd to my iPad.
  3. Speaking of calendars…I have my calendar on both my iPhone and iPad so I can easily see what appointments I have.  I also have them color coded so I can see which appointments are things I need to get to (pink) and which ones I just have to do something by that date (blue).
  4. Alarms.  I have a hard time remembering things even with all those tools so I have a reminder go off on my phone AND iPad so I can hear it from where ever I am and know when things are getting ready to need my full attention or physical presence.
  5. I have several apps that I use to keep notes of things like symptoms I need to tell my dr, forms I need to fill out for my kids, ideas I have for articles, books and webinars (you might have other lists for your ministry/business.
  6. Notebooks help me keep organized for various projects I have.  You may want one notebook per project so you can keep notes as you think of them and have them all in one place.
  7. Ladies, you may want to keep track of your monthly female cycles.  If peri menopause is one of your trials or not, you’ll probably be too brain fogged to remember when the dr asks or if you need to know.  Mine were so chaotic in and of themselves that I couldn’t be expected to remember if I had a Sheldon Cooper memory!
  8. Keep records of the people you speak to about issues you have.  I kept a Charter Communication Log that ended up being about 50 pages long because we had so many problems with the cable company.  I’d write down the name of the person I spoke with, date and time, and issue as well as what the rep told me would be done.  It made it easier for me to complain and be taken seriously the next time I had an issue which was all the time.  Having specifics (names, dates, times, terms) makes your case more credible to the company.  You may not be able to remember what you had for lunch, but you can read what Linda W. told you she’d do on 4 September 2017!
  9. Put all your important documents in one place you can easily find.  I have all our birth certificates, bank info, etc in one file folder all in one place so I can easily find it no matter what head spinning chaos is going on around me that day.

Any way you can keep notes, records, ideas, and other things you may need later in any organized way that will allow you to find them when you need them will help you keep chaos at bay.  And that’s another step in getting out of survival mode!

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